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Kenya's President Given Ultimatum to Sack Finance Minister

Some members of Kenya’s parliament have given President Mwai Kibaki an ultimatum to fire Finance Minister Amos Kimunya Monday. The Kenyan parliament passed a vote of no confidence last week in Minister Kimunya for his role in the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel which some say was a corrupt transaction.

Last week, Kimunya told VOA the Regency was sold to recover money owed the Kenyan Central Bank. He reportedly told Monday's The Standard newspaper of Kenya that he would rather die than resign.

Cyrus Jirongo is a member of the group of parliamentarians who are calling for Finance Minister Kimunya’s immediate sacking. He told VOA they want to recover all of Kenya’s stolen property to create employment for the country’s youth.

“The truth of the matter is that this country is experiencing a serious youth bounce. We are today the second. Zambia is the highest. Kenya is about 39.8, and in the next four years we are putting another 14.9 million young people into the work force. Any little resource this country has must be harnessed and invested with a view to creating formal employment for a majority of our young people,” he said.

Jirongo said the members of parliament affiliated with the Grand Coalition were not acting against minister Kimunya because of hatred. Instead he said finance minister Kimunya had no right engage in unacceptable and illegal dealings.

Jirongo accused Finance Minister Kimunya of mortgaging and selling state assets to certain individuals in Libya.

“There is this new-found love between those in leadership in this country and certain individuals in Libya, and they are rapidly mortgaging and taking assets of the state and selling to certain individuals in Libya and we do not know exactly what they getting back. And therefore we are saying if the president is part of what Amos Kimunya has done, and then he should be the first person to agree with us that Kimunya needs to step aside to allow free and fair investigation. But if the president is sticking on Kimunya, then there is something the president knows and literally he is trying to cover up,” Jirongo said.

Kimunya told VOA last week the Regency Hotel was sold to recover money owed the Kenyan Central Bank. He also reportedly told Monday’s The Standard newspaper of Kenya that he would rather die than resign.

Jirongo said the problem is not the selling of the Grand Regency but rather the manner in which Mr. Kimunya sold the hotel.

“If you want to sell a public asset, normally you advertise and accept the highest bid. Why did he engage in secretive dealings that had nobody’s approval if he was not taking money for his pocket?” Jirongo said.

He said members of parliament who are calling for Finance Minister Kimunya’s sacking have a plan of action should President Kibaki refuse to fire the minister.

“We will come up with a parliamentary select committee to investigate all the dealings that have been going on. We are also coming to legislate a new law that will enable the recovery of all stolen property. And the purpose is to generate enough resources to invest in various natural resources in this country with a view to creating employment for our young people,” he said.

The current Kenyan government is a national unity government that was put together following last year’s post-election violence.

Jirongo said Mr. Kimunya is being chased out as minister of finance and not as a member of parliament.

“We are not firing him as a member of parliament. He was elected by the people, but he was not elected by the people to be minister of finance. To become a minister is the prerogative of the president. But we are telling the president that who ever you appoint as finance minister does not have the capacity, he doesn’t qualify to be the custodian of assets of the Republic of Kenya,” Jirongo said.